'WaitList.dat' Windows File May Be Secretly Hoarding Your Passwords, Emails - Slashdot

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'WaitList.dat' Windows File May Be Secretly Hoarding Your Passwords, Emails (zdnet.com)

Posted by BeauHD on Wednesday September 19, 2018 @06:40PM from the security-risks dept.

A file named WaitList.dat, found only on touchscreen-capable Windows PCs,

may be collecting your sensitive data like passwords and emails

. According to ZDNet, in order for the file to exist users have to enable "

the handwriting recognition feature

that automatically translates stylus/touchscreen scribbles into formatted text." From the report:

The handwriting to formatted text conversion feature has been added in Windows 8, which means the WaitList.dat file has been around for years. The role of this file is to store text to help Windows improve its handwriting recognition feature, in order to recognize and suggest corrections or words a user is using more often than others. "In my testing, population of WaitList.dat commences after you begin using handwriting gestures," [Digital Forensics and Incident Response expert Barnaby Skeggs] told ZDNet in an interview. "This 'flicks the switch' (registry key) to turn the text harvester functionality (which generates WaitList.dat) on." "Once it is on, text from every document and email which is indexed by the Windows Search Indexer service is stored in WaitList.dat. Not just the files interacted via the touchscreen writing feature," Skeggs says.

Since the Windows Search Indexer service powers the system-wide Windows Search functionality, this means data from all text-based files found on a computer, such as emails or Office documents, is gathered inside the WaitList.dat file. This doesn't include only metadata, but the actual document's text. "The user doesn't even have to open the file/email, so long as there is a copy of the file on disk, and the file's format is supported by the Microsoft Search Indexer service," Skeggs told ZDNet. "On my PC, and in my many test cases, WaitList.dat contained a text extract of every document or email file on the system, even if the source file had since been deleted," the researcher added. Furthermore, Skeggs says WaitList.dat can be used to recover text from deleted documents.

Put your Nose to the Grindstone! -- Amalgamated Plastic Surgeons and Toolmakers, Ltd.